The Golden Gate and the D began accepting Bitcoin on January 22, and so far, Stevens has been encouraged by the initial results. “We’ve seen a rather healthy response from guests,” he says. “We’re particularly surprised to see that so many non-U.S. citizens have Bitcoin, but I could see how if I lived in Europe, Bitcoin would be attractive, since it’s a common currency that can be utilized in any country.”
Stevens called the lack of having to pay transaction fees a “monster advantage” for his hotels, and Alexander agreed. “With Bitcoin, merchants don’t have to pay the 2 or 3 percent to use a card like MasterCard or service like PayPal. So I would think hotels would really enjoy that extra 2 or 3 percent in their profit margins.”
No other hotels in the country are currently accepting the currency, but Alexander says there are “at least a hundred new businesses every week” beginning to use it. That growing list includes Overstock.com, the first major retailer to join the market, and CheapAir.com, which just last week became the only online travel agency that lets guests use Bitcoin to make reservations at more than 200,000 hotels worldwide.
“If there’s a group of travelers out there who want to transact a certain way, why not give them that opportunity as long as it’s relatively feasible?” says CheapAir.com CEO Jeff Klee, who introduced Bitcoin for flight reservations in November. “Though Bitcoin transactions only account for a small percentage of our total sales, we’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback from the people who are really excited we’re accepting it. And because we do, my guess is those people are going to be more loyal to us going forward than the average customer.”
Beyond seeing a tangible boost in transactions—“I’m very pleased with the actual results,” Stevens says. “I think when you look at what the technology provides and how things are moving forward, Bitcoin is something that uniquely benefits early adopters. The people who come into our properties to use Bitcoin are first-time visitors, but they actually may want to come back. From my perspective, I only see upside here.”